Survey: Religious Republicans Still Show Strong Support for Bush

While the majority of Americans disapprove of they way President Bush is handling his job as president, a recent survey found that religious Republicans have not abandoned Bush and the GOP.

According to a May 30-June 3 national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 71 percent of religious Republicans strongly approved of Bush's job performance and 80 percent also strongly believed that using military force in Iraq was the right decision.

Approval of Bush's job performance has declined from 86 percent to 71 percent since 2005 but support for the Iraq War decision has decreased by only three percentage points, the Pew survey showed.

Among other Republicans, 61 percent approve of Bush's job performance and 72 percent approve of the Iraq War decision.

Overall, only 29 percent of the entire American public approves of the way Bush is handling his job and 40 percent believe using force in Iraq was the right decision.

The release of the Pew report comes after Republican presidential candidates kept their distance from Bush in a debate at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire earlier this month. According to CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider, the candidates concentrated their fire on Democrats and on Bush – the mismanagement of the war, the spending and the immigration bill.

However, the Pew findings "suggest that religious Republicans are still a firm part of the GOP base," according to the Pew report. The criticism of Republican presidential front-runners Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney by conservative religious leaders thus "is unlikely to reflect abandonment of the president or of the GOP, but rather concern about departures from the Bush administration policies."